Monday, January 12th, 2015
5:00PM CET (Central European Time)
Københavns Lufthavne (Copenhagen Airport), Kastrup, Denmark
I emerge into a small international terminal, with no more people milling about than the afternoon rush at LaGuardia back in the states. I breeze through customs and head to baggage claim to collect my bag. This is the first time I’ve checked my bag this trip so I’m nervous, but before long it emerges, bouncing along the carousel wrapped up in plastic wrap like some strange, blue mummy. Navigating airports is becoming more routine to me, but for the first time I’m discovering an alphabet and language I’m not fully familiar with. Most of the signs are bilingual, but for the first time in my life, I’m in a place where I do not speak the primary language. I’m equally excited and nervous. Plus, the danish language throws their own unique letters into my usually familiar alphabet like ø and å. Nerves aside, I take some cash from an ATM, buy a city bus pass and attempt to navigate my way to Jakob’s flat. He and his flatmates live west of downtown, close to the neighborhood of Utterslev. It’s quickly getting dark now and my first bus drops me off at the bustling hub of Nørreport in the heart of Copenhagen. The square is packed with bicycles and people mill around waiting for various buses. Its a bit overwhelming but after some careful sign reading and referencing Jakob’s directions I locate my second bus.
No sooner than I am on the bus, I realize the final instructions that Jakob sent which was “Text me when you get to the bus stop”. I’ve been limping along using wifi instead of biting the bullet and getting an international phone with a changeable SIM card slot (a strategy I now do not recommend, its worth the few extra bucks folks), and I realize the likelihood of wifi at a small residential bus stop is slim to none. Sure enough, as I arrive at the dimly lit stop in a quiet neighborhood, there’s not a signal to be found. Mildly panicking, I begin to walk up and down the street, phone held high in the air, desperately searching for the tiniest open signal. Finally, I find a car dealership with an errant open wifi signal and quickly shoot a text to Jakob, then bolt back to the bus stop. A few minutes later, Jakob pulls up in his car and we zip back to the apartment.
Jakob’s Flat, NW Copenhagen, Denmark
Jakob introduces me to his roommate, then insists I make myself at home in his room, offering to take the couch himself. This is the kind of hospitality that I’ve grown to love and adore about the Couchsurfing community, in all my experiences hosting and surfing, I’ve come across largely only the most kind, caring, hospitable people I’ve ever met. Once I’m settled in, Jakob sheepishly confesses that unfortunately, his mom is coming into town the next day so I’ll only be able to stay with him for a night, but quickly says he’s contacted friends of his that are happy to host me for the remainder of my stay. He then offers to take me out for a drink, to which I happily oblige.
We stroll to a local pub and I offer to buy the drinks if Jakob orders. I’m now feeling incredibly self conscious of not speaking the language, my own sense of “foreignness” feeling very prominent now. Jakob kindly obliges. We settle in at a table near the bar, two cold Carlsberg’s in hand. Jakob lights a cigarette and must have noticed my surprise at this, because he chuckles and quickly explains that any pub under 40 square meters that doesn’t serve food you’re allowed to smoke inside of. Its a remnant of a time when smoking indoors was common, just as it was in the 50’s in the U.S. . Copenhagen has since modernized like most industrialized nations and most indoor smoking is prohibited, but the neighborhood pub is allowed to hold on to this particular vice. We chat and catch up on things since we’ve last seen each other. The night wears on and soon we head back to the flat to tuck in for the night.
January 13th, 2015
Jakob’s Flat, NW Copenhagen, Denmark
In the morning I say my goodbyes to Jakob and head off to do some sightseeing while he gets ready for his mom’s visit. I hop on the bus and head to central Copenhagen to do some sightseeing and grab a coffee.
Copenhagen K, Copenhagen, Denmark
I hop into a coffee shop and grab a latte and take advantage of the free wifi to reach out to Jakob’s friend Simon, who has offered to let me stay with him and his roommates for the rest of my stay. Simon is friendly and accommodating and I head over to his flat to drop my bags off and say hi before exploring more of the city.
When I arrive, Simon makes me feel right at home, even giving me a key to the apartment so I can come and go as I please. Simon is a chef at a local restaurant and his two roommates are musicians, a lovely creative bunch. After a bit of chatting I head out to explore the city, free of my bulky pack.
For the rest of the afternoon, I wander about the city. Copenhagen curves and winds in its own unique way. There’s a cleanness to the air and the vibe is bustling but yet calm.
It is incredibly pedestrian friendly. There seem to be more pedestrian streets than driving streets. I wander about until I come across the Rundetaarn (Round Tower). Inside is a sloping, curving ramp that takes you to the top of the tower to see some of the most beautiful views of downtown Copenhagen.
I wander through the winding streets until the cold and my feet finally tell me its time to head back.
Back at the apartment, I spend time smoking and chatting with Simon and his roommates, the windows of the apartment swung open to waft out the smoke from the many lit cigarettes. We chat music, travel and work. I think one of the most unique features of couch surfing travel is the somewhat “forced” interaction, and I use that term in the most loving way. There’s no TV, just a stereo playing music that’s intermittently DJ’d by a member of the household. Instead there’s four people who feel that, because of proximity and limited amounts of time, that they must interact and connect with each other while the time exists. Simon then cooks us a simple but DELICIOUS dinner, his cooking talents clearly shining through. His roommates beam as they explain this is a regular “perk” of living with him. After dinner there are more cigarettes and chatting before we all finally retire. Before I fall asleep, I reach out to Lars, another friend of mine in Copenhagen to see if he wants to meet up. He enthusiastically replies and we make plans for coffee the next day.
Thanks for reading! I plan on churning out the rest of these adventures as quickly as I can! Its taken far too long to tell one of my favorite stories of my life and I appreciate everyone’s patience with me 🙂